OYSTER SHELL BARS
Building artificial reef for new habitat
Part of Tampa Bay Watch’s Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) program, the Oyster Shell Bar program creates oyster reefs similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Watch works closely with governmental agencies and other environmental organizations to identify priority restoration sites. Once these sites have been identified, Tampa Bay Watch designs the best project for the location, secures the necessary permits from governmental agencies, and coordinates and implements the hands-on community based habitat restoration.
Check out how Tampa Bay Watch and our volunteers made Field & Stream's "Hero for a Day!" Click to view the video.
How Do Oysters Help Improve Tampa Bay?
Through the creation and enhancement of new oyster habitat in Tampa Bay, many new ecological benefits will occur, including:
- Water filtration capacity provided by oysters will directly benefit the entire Tampa Bay ecosystem
- Improved water quality conditions can promote the reintroduction of subtidal seagrass beds into the Bay as water quality improves.
- An increase in surface area and interstitial area for other attaching organisms (such as barnacles, sea squirts, anemones, sponges, corals and algae), immensely increasing the productivity of the benthic area;
- The creation of the oyster shell reefs will contribute to the improvement and protection of bay habitats by stabilizing the shoreline and providing optimal conditions for the settlement of salt marsh plants and mangroves behind the oyster shell bar.
- Additionally, the oyster reef will provide habitat, foraging areas and sanctuary for various species of fish and wildlife that frequent coastal and estuarine shorelines.
- Increasing oyster growth in Tampa Bay will provide multiple ecological benefits to several trust resources as well as threatened and endangered species.
It Takes a Community of Volunteers!
The goal of our oyster shell bar program is to provide and enhance marine habitat while providing environmental education and stewardship within the Tampa Bay community through hands-on community restoration. Here’s how it works:
1. Fossilized shell is delivered to a staging area close to the project site.
2. Volunteers shovel the shell into marine-friendly mesh bags.
3. The bags are transported to the project site by boat.
4. The bags are then offloaded by staff and volunteers and placed along the shoreline in the permitted design.
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